A Secret (and True!) Lie of JFK Assassination Revealed in ‘Parkland’.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy has been replayed dozens of times on screen. Heck, it was replayed dozens of times in “JFK” alone. But just when you think every facet of that fateful day has been hashed over, comes “Parkland.”
Some of the little-known facts the film reveals include how JFK still had a faint heartbeat when he was brought to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas on November 22, 1963. And how Secret Service agents broke the law when it came to moving the president’s body.
The latter scene plays out in this exclusive clip. Agent Roy Kellerman (played by Tom Welling of “Smallville” fame) fights with Dallas County medical examiner Dr. Earl Rose (Rory Cochrane, “Dazed and Confused”). They have a showdown, specifically, over president’s lifeless body and where it should go.
And yes, this showdown did occur in real life, according to Kellerman’s testimony to Congress in the months following the assassination.
Kellerman and the rest of JFK’s security detail were intent on getting the president back to Washington, D.C., quickly, but Rose demanded that his body stay in Dallas. The president was murdered — a local crime under local jurisdiction. Rose was simply following protocol by demanding that JFK’s body stay in Dallas.
Kellerman wasn’t having it — as his testimony to Congress indicates: “[Rose] said to me, he said, ‘There has been a homicide here, you won’t be able to remove the body. We will have to take it down there to the mortuary and have an autopsy.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ And he said, ‘We have a law here whereby you have to comply with it.'”
A doctor at Parkland backed him up, essentially telling the examiner to back off. “The doctor became a little enraged; he said, ‘We are removing it.’ He said, ‘This is the president of the United States and there should be some consideration in an event like this,'” Kellerman testified. “I told this gentleman, I said, ‘You are going to have to come up with something a little stronger than you to give me the law that this body can’t be removed.'”
According to Kellerman’s testimony, the medical examiner called everyone he could to prove to the Secret Service agent that JFK’s body had to stay put. But even word from a local judge, who echoed Rose’s sentiments, didn’t deter Kellerman.
Kellerman recalled pleading with the judge: “The family doesn’t have to go through this. We will take care of the matter when we get back to Washington.” As his statement to Congress reflects, he noticed other agents wheeling the casket out to an ambulance. Kellerman entered the vehicle after first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was sitting securely inside.
Then, the Secret Service agent admitted to telling a lie in order to expedite the late president’s return to Washington. “As we are leaving a gentleman taps on the driver’s window and they roll it down and he says, ‘I will meet you at the mortuary.’ [I replied,] ‘Yes, sir.’ We went to the airport, gentlemen.”
An autopsy was performed on the president the evening of the 22nd, in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Parkland,” also starring Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Hanks, and Billy Bob Thornton, is based on the book of the same name by Vincent Bugliosi (“Helter Skelter”). The film opens in theaters Friday.